I was Tweeting last night during the hour before the Joke of the Union address.
(See! There I go! Why would I have written “Joke” instead of “State?” Because if the emotions behind the idea. Let me explain…)
So I’m tweeting away with my couple thousand online friends. It was fun; Obama, Biden and the crew are seriously easy targets for mockery.
But as I tweeted away, I started thinking – what is it that so animates us about this?
Why are people so interested in politics and why do they hold the positions they do?
Really think about this: what makes you a conservative? A liberal? Why do you care?
Here, I could easily do a riff about freedom, our founding principles, tyranny, incrementalism, Saul Alinsky, communism.
But that’s not what it’s really about. What drives people to act? What drives them to Tweet about Obama being a joke? What drives them to donate money?
It’s the emotion associated with an idea.
Here’s my idea of conservatism…
Traditional family – sure there is disfunction in every family. But we work through it and help each other. A family with a Mom and a Dad is always best.
Opportunity – I once had a rich uncle tell me that the way to get rich is to own your own business or make the right stock investments. I believe him.
Taking advantage – It pisses me off when people take 150 weeks of unemployment. It makes me furious when people claim disability assistance when they have no real problem.
Ridiculous waste – When I think about the amount of money the government takes from us, and the amount they spend, it makes me crazy. It makes me resent paying my taxes.
Fairness – It pisses me off that my wife and I have to deplete every cent that we manage to save up over the year to pay our tax bill, while HALF of the people in the country don’t pay a goddamn thing. Oh, by the way, we’re not rich. Not by a long shot.
Tattoos and Piercings - I don’t care what you do with your body, but understand that if you’re a 22 year old girl with a pierced tongue, you’ll never get the job babysitting my kids. It’s about making judgements. We should make judgements about people.
Being racist – Being called a racist at every turn pisses me off. Just because I happen to be white doesn’t make me a racist. But if you keep accusing me of being racist, you can be damn sure that I’m going to get resentful.
Affirmative action – You need to have lower standards because you’re black? Bullshit. Black people are no different than me. They are just as smart and just as capable. Act like it.
Safety - When we strip search 80 year old women from Arkansas and go out of our way NOT to strip search muslims dressed in their garb, it pisses me off. Terrorists are overwhelmingly middle eastern men. Overlooking that is stupid.
I think those are the basics. Notice that this list is kind of negative. It’s a list of things that make me mad. Things that elicit an emotional reaction.
The idea is that we should be self-reliant, God fearing, family oriented people who are capable of all manner of achievement, and we’ll take no guff from anybody in our pursuit of happiness.
This idea produces a visceral, emotional reaction.
And therein lies the political implication.
Smart politicians understand this and will play to your emotions. Hell, this is how Obama got elected – by an idea… ”hope.”
Turns out he’s an empty suit with a socialist briefcase, but I digress.
If conservative politicians would stop trying to sell tactical plans for programs and start articulating the ideas, they would tap into the emotions that surround conservatism, they will succeed like never before.
What drives your interest in politics?